Aircraft IT Operations – March / April 2014

Aircraft IT Operations – March / April 2014 Cover


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The World according to IT and me

Author: Paul Saunders, Solution Manager, Flatirons Solutions


The World according to IT and me

Column: The World according to IT…and me: Paul Saunders, Global Product Manager, Flatirons Solutions

Just as the leftover Christmas fare was starting to look (and smell) decidedly dodgy in my fridge, the concept of casting out the old and bringing in the new inspired me to consider some technology predictions for the new year. One topic that really stands out for me as a mega trend that is going to affect us all is ‘Identity’.

In December, we witnessed “one of [the] most sophisticated data thefts ever” when thieves stole the identities of 70 million customers of U.S. retail giant Target.[1] In January, Target indicated that its critical Christmas sales had been negatively impacted by the breach.[2] lists 3,525 identity breach news items over the past five years with the Heartland Payment Systems’ 130 million credit card thefts topping the list.[3] The 2013 ‘Identity Thief’ crime comedy film starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy aside, the risks and impacts to individuals, corporations and governments (Ed Snowden and the NSA) is no laughing matter.

At home, our tastes, our purchases, our opinions, the places we go, the people we meet, our sights and sounds are all documented online to some extent. I’m assuming dear reader that if you’re reading this then that statement applies to you as much as to anybody. It isn’t beyond the wit of man to expose the digital footprints of the people around us. With social media and consumer technology creeping into the work place and even the cockpit, the lines are blurring between what elements of your personal data belongs at home and which belongs at work.

How many readers have separate Apple or Google accounts for work and for home devices? How many of you bring your own devices (BYOD) to work? How many readers use the same Skype or Windows Live account at work and at home? How many make online purchases or stream their favourite media on work devices? If you add into the mix the complex web of information management integration, social CRM and collaboration tools, then you are starting to get a picture of the scale of your digital footprint and how difficult it becomes to separate business from pleasure. Gone are the days of your employer simply tracking basic personal details to control your access to network resources and to ensure you get paid on time. Progressive employers are seeking the same personal access as advertisers in order to best serve your digital requirements. This might be to drive rostering, deliver smart context to your information requests, and to track your activities without you having to duplicate that data into forms and databases (think expense claims, time sheets, etc.).

The identity mega trend I highlighted involves two strands. One is to allow the simple capture and utilisation of that user identity data by an interested employer. The regulators are already taking a keen interest in this topic with some on-board connectivity technologies being held back through fear of the security implications… a couple of examples being the segregation of networks on board aircraft and allowing crew devices to talk to each other. The other is associated with an individual’s control over their online data and the ability of businesses to protect their customers’ data from those with malicious intent. Like Target, businesses that cannot protect customer data will lose sales and see customers migrate to competitors. With the realisation that it is likely that some systems are not as secure as people think, I believe that in 2014 identity data will be treated as carefully as – or even more carefully than – money. Or, at least, that’s how I see it.




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